6 beach reads that are super feminist

We’ve made it to the first official weekend of summer! Hooray! This is the season of “chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool,” BUT that doesn’t mean that we throw our feminist agendas to the wind along with our caution. Keep the former going strong as you live your bold summer life (but please wear sunscreen, you should keep a little bit of caution) by paging through these feminist beach reads while kicking it poolside.

It will be a great way to remember that the whole idea of a “beach body”  is a farce (as if you need to do anything to obtain a “beach body” besides get your body to a beach, HA!) and it’ll help you stop yourself from thinking, I should lose weight to be sexy when you glance down at your bikiniclad body. Nope! Turn your face back to your feminist beach read and forget about any socially constructed patriarchal standards that stop you from loving yourself 1,000%.

Here are some great beach reads to further your intersectional-feminist grind while getting a great tan at the same time.

1. “My Brilliant Friend,” by Elena Ferrante

This is the first in a four-book series called the Neapolitan Novels, and don’t let the cover fool you: it’s the farthest thing from a cheesy romance novel (though if that’s the reason you picked it up, you won’t be disappointed either). No book has ever gone deeper into a childhood-to-adulthood friendship between two women. It’s a coming-of-age story and a political commentary, and most of all an amazing story from a woman’s perspective about growing up in a man’s world— make that a machismo man’s world, since it takes place in Naples, Italy. Start with this book and you’ll immediately want to read the next three in the series, so it’ll last you through the whole summer.

2. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood 

Scary dystopian books about the submission of women not quite your idea of a “beach read”? Well, welcome to Trump’s America. You may have been watching the Hulu adaptation of this feminist fiction novel, but the book is actually quite different. It’s an intriguing look at the role of women in a society that seems distant from ours, but the parallels will make you shiver and you’ll make sure not to become complacent even while you’re ~chilling~ on the beach.

3. “Bad Feminist,” by Roxane Gay

This book will have you laughing and nodding and yelling “YES” because Roxane Gay is a fierce and funny truth-teller. It’s the perfect book to read if you love cruising along the streets with your top down and hair flowing in the wind (or sitting in a stuffy subway car) while listening to music that uses offensive words for women and often think, can I still be a feminist and do this?. The answer is, you can, and Gay’s essays will make you feel so seen as a good or bad feminist.

4. “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” by Alexander McCall Smith


This book is often read in high school, so it’s not a challenging read (perfect for the beach) and it’s a totally captivating (and feminist) story! When Mma Precious Ramotswe opens up her own detective agency in Botswana, a treasure trove of cross-continental mysteries are opened. The girl power leaps through the pages, as does the excitement.

5. “Yes Please,” by Amy Poehler

Autobiographies are always a joy to read, especially when they’re HILARIOUS and EMPOWERING. This book is surprisingly real — Amy Poehler doesn’t hold back when talking about love, self-esteem, career, and parenting. It’s deeply honest and candid, and it will boost your confidence while you soak up the summer sun.

6. “The Devil Wears Prada,” by Lauren Weisberger 


You’ve probably seen the movie (if you haven’t, get on that STAT) but the book is SO GOOD, too! (Though good luck trying not to imagine Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly.) It’s a pretty easy read that’s basically fashion porn, and it focuses on a driven young woman who’s trying to build her career and all the trials and triumphs that go with that (sound familiar?). And did we mention the shoe talk? Yes, get on it.

Good luck being able to put any of these down! Just make sure you remember to sip some rosé between chapters.

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